The entity responsible for implementing the European Funds in Poland is the Minister of Investment and Economic Development. The Minister is obliged to coordinate the implementation of the provisions of the Partnership Agreement.
The Partnership Agreement Committee
The Committee is a subsidiary body of the Minister which coordinates the activities of all authorities involved in the distribution of European Union funds and is responsible for ensuring that the implementation of European Funds in Poland is carried out in accordance with the objectives of the EU cohesion policy.
The Committee is composed of representatives of all managing authorities, the Minister of Finance, economic and social partners and representatives of local authorities.
Several authorities are responsible for the implementation of the programme. Tasks provided under each programme may be divided between different authorities: Managing Authorities (present in every programme), Intermediate Bodies and Implementing Authorities. Each of these authorities has different responsibilities, tasks and competences.
The Managing Authority – which is included in the Ministry of Investment and Economic Development organisational structure – is responsible for managing national programmes and Territorial Cooperation programmes. For each of the regional programmes, the relevant voivodeship board acts as a Managing Authority. The Managing Authority is responsible for efficient and correct implementation of a given programme as a whole and at the level of individual projects. It also issues guidelines, recommendations and handbooks focusing on different aspects related to the implementation of the programme and carries out promotional and information activities.
The Managing Authority has very broad competences – from developing the programme itself, through the selection of projects for co-financing, ordering payments to be made to beneficiaries and verifying the regularity of beneficiaries’ expenditure, to monitoring the progress in the implementation of the programme and assessing the level of achievement of relevant objectives.
The Managing Authority’s general responsibility for appropriate management of the programme is related to the requirement of certification of expenditure incurred by the beneficiaries, i.e. the need to confirm the regularity of such expenditure and its compliance with national and EU law before the European Commission.
Managing Authorities establish specific rules for individual programmes, in particular:
- they ensure that projects are implemented correctly, using an appropriate Fund,
- they develop procedures and criteria for the selection of projects and verify whether the co-financed projects fulfil the relevant requirements and whether the expenditure declared by the beneficiaries was implemented and paid appropriately,
- they assess and monitor the progress in the implementation of the programme,
- they certify expenditure incurred by the beneficiaries, i.e. they confirm the regularity of such expenditure and its compliance with national and EU law before the European Commission,
- they support and organise the work of the Programme’s Monitoring Committee.
The Managing Authority of a given programme may delegate a portion of its tasks to Intermediate Bodies. By creating such Intermediate Bodies, the Managing Authority transfers a portion of its tasks and the responsibility for their implementation to such bodies, but it still remains responsible for the whole programme.
The scope of responsibility of Intermediate Bodies is established by way of agreement. An Intermediate Body is competent inter alia to:
- prepare and carry out the call for proposals and to select appropriate projects,
- conclude contracts on project co-financing,
- ensure correct and prompt settlement of projects.
Intermediate Bodies are usually entities specialising in the fields covered by co-financing under a given programme. For instance, the Ministry of the Environment acts as an Intermediate Body for funding allocated to environmental protection under Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment.
As a Managing Authority may delegate a portion of its competences to an Intermediate Body, so an Intermediate Body may delegate a portion of its competences to another authority. Such authority is referred to as the Implementing Authority. They are closest to the beneficiaries and are responsible for receiving applications for co-financing and for signing contracts for the implementation of projects.
Implementing Authorities are competent inter alia to:
- receive applications for co-financing from the beneficiaries,
- select projects for co-financing and sign contracts with beneficiaries,
- provide Intermediate Bodies with information about expenditure,
- monitor the implementation of individual projects,
- verify the use of funding by the beneficiaries (e.g. by carrying out controls in the beneficiary’s place of business) and prepare reports on the implementation of tasks delegated to them.
The Audit Authority was established to ensure that all activities related to the allocation of European Funds in Poland are carried out in accordance with applicable law and procedures. This authority is responsible for carrying out audits of the entire system of management and control used for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of EU funding.
The General Inspectorate of Treasury Control acts as the Audit Authority and carries out its tasks in cooperation with the Minister of Finance and tax control offices in 16 voivodeships.
A Monitoring Committee is established for each programme. This Committee is responsible primarily for:
- carrying out systematic assessments of the progress in the implementation of the programme,
- analysing issues which may have an impact on the implementation of the programme’s objectives,carrying out consultations with regard to proposed changes to the programme and accepting such changes,
- adopting project evaluation criteria.
The Monitoring Committee established for each programme consists of the representatives of central and local government and social and economic partners. Representatives of the European Commission also take part in the Monitoring Committee’s work, acting as advisors. Furthermore, representatives of other institutions may also take part in the Committee’s meetings as observers.
Audit of expenditure and project settlement
All expenditure incurred under the European Funds has to be certified. The process of certification consists in checking whether the financial documents are accurate and based on reliable documents and whether they comply with the applicable provisions. If irregularities in the spending of European Funds are detected, the amounts received as co-financing have to be repaid.
The Central Information and Communication System (pl. Centralny system teleinformatyczny, CST) is currently being established in order to facilitate the implementation of programmes and control and audit activities. The system will store information about:
- life-cycle of projects,
- certification process.
Furthermore, all beneficiaries will be able to settle their projects by using this system.
Evaluation and studies
Evaluation is a process of assessing the results of the implementation of programmes and projects co-financed from the European Funds. Evaluation makes it possible to analyse their quality and effectiveness. The aim of the evaluation is to improve the relevant procedure, i.e. to adjust the implementation of EU funds before the project is finalised, in order to make it possible to achieve the relevant objectives, or to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes or projects which have already been implemented.
System of guidelines
The legal bases for spending European funds are contained in relevant EU Regulations and in the Act on the principles governing the implementation of the cohesion policy programmes financed under the 2014–2020 financial perspective. In order to ensure a uniform implementation of individual programmes the Minister of Investment and Economic Development issues guidelines which are binding on all institutions responsible for the implementation of programmes. Such guidelines are referred to as horizontal guidelines. Horizontal guidelines may address different issues, e.g.:
- the method of project selection,
- eligibility of expenditure,
- evaluation of programmes,
- information and promotion.
Horizontal guidelines may be further detailed and adjusted to the specific nature of individual programmes by means of programme guidelines.